Release Date: November 1, 2011
A startling, wonderful novel about the true meaning of being an alien in an equally alien world.
"We are specks. Pieces of dust in this universe. Big nothings.
"I know what I am."
Mal lives on the fringes of high school. Angry. Misunderstood. Yet loving the world -- or, at least, an idea of the world.
Then he meets Hooper. Who says he's from another planet. And may be going home very soon.
This book was very different from what I expected; when I first read the plot I thought it was going to be a considerably thicker novel (First Day on Earth is just 150 pages) that focused not only on Mal's journey towards self-discovery, but also on theories about extraterrestrial life and specifically Mal's interactions with them. However, the novel focuses mainly on Mal's self-discovery.
Mal is what most people would consider a loner; he doesn't have many friends and is 'the quiet kid in the corner' at school. Ever since his Dad left him, his Mom's been a wreck and a drunk, leaving Mal to take care of himself and her. Years ago, he went missing for three days and the police found him in the middle of the desert. Everyone thinks he had a seizure or some sort of medical issue that caused him to wander into the desert, but Mal thinks he was abducted by aliens.
Mal finds solace in helping small animals he finds (often taking them to the nearby shelter for help) and goes to a support group for abductees. There, he meets Hooper, whom he gets to know better. Hooper tells Mal he isn't from around here--he's actually from another planet. It seems to make sense, afterall, Hooper does have some weird habits and did seem kind of odd ever since Mal met him.
Not your typical YA novel, but I rather liked it. It's different and the style works nicely as well. It's short, to the point with nothing drawn-out. Explores a teen's life as he wanders on the path towards self-discovery; a path that we all know is by no means a flat, carefree walk in the park! Sure, he's got some of that teen-angst going, but Mal genuinely does want to figure out who he is. Everyone's felt lost at some point, and with life-changing events, it can be easy to lose your sense of self-purpose and direction. I feel that the author does a good job conveying this feeling of loss and the desire to find oneself throughout the novel, despite how short it was. Characters were also reasonably well-developed for the brevity of this novel, and I must say, I really enjoyed Hooper's character. He was quite a hoot; nice comic relief for the more depressing moments Mal had!
Overall: 4 out of 5
Plot: 4 stars
Characters: 4.25 stars
Writing: 4.5 stars
Cover: 3.75 stars (love the font)